BOS - April 26, 2005

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BOS - April 26, 2005

Postby Suzanne Kane » Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:41 am

Board of Selectmen
Agenda
April 26, 2005


1. Meeting with Attorney Jonathan Eichman regarding Road Acceptance Options (Fee Interest v. Easements) (th Town Engineer and Assistant Assessor have been invited to attend).

2. Town Engineer - Various Items

3. Discuss FY06 Budget - vote upon budget recommendations. (Town Accountant and Police Chief will be attending).

4. Executive Administrator Evaluation Wrap-up.

5. Other Business

6. Adjourn
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Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
April 26, 2005



• Call to Order:
Madame Chairman Shirley Mosczynski called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. In attendance: Paula Brouillette, Rich Preston, David Furno, Edward Therrien, Executive Administrator Michael Guzinski, and Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane.

Other staff and citizens: Town Counsel Jonathan Eichman, Town Engineer William Cundiff, Police Chief Patrick Foley, Police Lt. Glenn Gilbert, Assistant Assessor Ida Ouillette and Tribune Reporter Tom Mattson.

1. Meeting with Attorney Jonathan Eichman regarding Road Acceptance Options (Fee Interest v. Easements) (the Town Engineer and Assistant Assessor have been invited to attend): Kopelman & Paige Attorney Jonathan Eichman came before the Board to go over Road Acceptance Options. Michael Guzinski reported that the Board has been having discussions on the acceptance of public ways. Historically the Town takes public ways through fee interest. Recently there has been communication from Kopelman & Paige that the Town should consider other ways of acceptance. There has been a lot of discussion between the Town Engineer William Cundiff, Assistant Assessor Ida Ouillette, and himself – there has been some disagreement about the best way to handle it. There is a consensus between them to continue accepting roads through fee interest. William Cundiff stated one way or the other (easements or fee interest) would be acceptable. The issue is there are two subdivision projects that have been approved where different lawyers have conveyed out different parcels individually within those projects in a different manner. So there is a mixing – some have been conveyed out as easement and some have been conveyed out as fee interest. That presents a Title issue – the Town can not accept the way as a public way because of the fee mixed with the easements. They are looking for consistent patterns. He is looking for a policy or direction from the Board. Jonathan Eichman stated although he is not advocating one over the other there are advantages to taking rather than fee interest. One advantage he discovered in the last day or two concerns alterations of layout. A lot of time a Town will change the layout of the way at some point and they change and move the boundary of the road in or out. If the Town has fee interest in the road the process is more complex and sets up liability issues for damages. What they could do is convey the land back to the property owner but that procedure requires a survey plan which needs to go before the Planning Board. With an easement they don’t have to do anything. Once an alteration is done it automatically discontinues the rights others have on it – it makes the process a lot easier. It’s really a matter of convenience – what is going to work for the Town looking into the future. He knows Ida Ouillette has concerns from an Assessors point of view. Ida Ouillette stated if it’s an easement – the way they look at it is the developer still owns the fee and they will continue to be assessed for the land. She is looking for something from Town Counsel or DOR that directs her that which ever way it is taken; for example if it’s a public way they would direct the Assessors Office not to assess the land. She is looking for a written opinion that it’s ok to no longer assess those people. William Cundiff stated the newer subdivisions are geared for new designs – newer roads that they won’t have to tweak the layout. Jonathan Eichman stated a lot of Towns will ask the developer to retain a fee for the roadway so it doesn’t land on the Town. If the developer doesn’t do this it doesn’t mean that when he conveys out the lots he retains the fee of the roadway. By operation of the law the developer can convey that land; a lot on the side of the road can be conveyed to the middle of the road. He does not retain the fee unless he expressly retains the fee; the fee stays with the lot owner, it does not go with him. Rich Preston stated he felt this was important to discuss and come up with a definitive policy. It has been their history to have ownership of those roads – this issue came about because in a recent subdivision there were line issues and ownership issues. Now they have a subdivision that some of the property owners own into the center of the road – the Town doesn’t own it and it’s not continuous with each property. He asked what the norm is in other communities. Jonathan Eichman stated it depends on the day of the week you ask him. For Towns that are paying attention – easement is more of the norm. Rich Preston commenting on Jonathan Eichman’s recommendation in his email – that if they chose easement there are a couple of ways to do it. One is a deed requirement – which has an approval process. It’s not enacted unless Town Meeting decides to take the road. Would that be a course of action he would recommend? Jonathan Eichman answered yes – there are always problems with subdivision. They can make a conditional approval with the developers withhold grants or what ever rights they want. If they don’t take the deed in the beginning they become dependent on the developer and they end up with the patchwork Rich Preston referred to. He feels having a policy is the right approach – have the policy cover the Planning Board all the way to the acceptance process. Rich Preston asked if they decided to go with the easement would it simply be a policy of the Board of Selectmen that would involve the Planning Board or would it be more that it would incorporate subdivision easement regulations in the Bylaw. Jonathan Eichman stated it would just be a policy. Incorporating rules and regulation could cause problems – they can’t require the giving of the land. It’s usually suggested to the developer that they give the deed to the Town conditional on acceptance of the way. He can not think of any regulations the Board would have to pass. As long as the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board understand what they want. The difference between a fee interest and easement are very little. Easements have a range of scope. The fee holder can exclude entrance by anyone. Once the road becomes public the Town, by the Board of Selectmen, has large powers to control who uses the road and who fixes the road. One thing they may want to think about is the “up” side versus the “down” sides. He can not come up with a good reason why they should do one over the other. In line with the Towns normal practice – as long as they are consistent and the practice works fine. William Cundiff stated that one of the down sides is Ida Ouillette has a more difficult time assessing parcels because DOR does not have an opinion in writing that the section of road that is easement is not taxable. Ida Ouillette stated that with a subdivision, when the plan comes to the Assessors the roadway is calculated in. Right now it’s like backland $500/acre. She asked if the Town only has an easement does it become a public way is it legally a public way. Jonathan Eichman stated technically it is – as long as proper procedures are followed as set out in the statutes. Rich Preston stated he can understand the concept of an easement – but someone else has ownership; what is their liability. Jonathan Eichman stated they don’t own the road, they own the land to the extent that they are using the road as the Towns easement. When the Town uses it as a public way there is little rights left as far as ownership but there is still liability on the owner for hazardous waste. He asked the Board if they wanted to wait until he can reach anyone at DOR for an opinion on assessing the land. He will try to at least get a verbal opinion and will inquire on what to do to get a written opinion. Rich Preston stated he is getting the sense that Easement is the way to go. Since time is of the essence should they start developing a policy? Jonathan Eichman stated he will check into DOR – in the mean time they should start developing a policy. Shirley Mosczynski stated the idea was for Michael Guzinski, William Cundiff, and Jonathan Eichman to put something together and bring it to them. Consensus of the Board.

2. Town Engineers – Various Items:
• Preservation Park Subdivision: William Cundiff
discussed an email to Steve Zisk from Rebecca Cutting which pertains to Preservation Park Subdivision. At the time that the subdivision was approved there was 110 acres of backland that was promised to the Town. That never occurred. Conservation had a few submittals in front of them – they were denied. DEP agreed with Conservation. Now it’s gone to a land process. They are at a point where Conservation, Planning and Zoning have proposed that the developer be able to develop three lots. In order for that to be granted the owner would convey to Town the 100 acres. The Judge agreed – he told Steve Zisk to go back to the Boards and get their consensus and ask the developer’s attorney, Henry Lane to come up with a definitive plan and make it as cheap as possible. Henry Lane proposed a swap of three lots given to the Town as a settlement of 61A land in exchange for Town property. Instead of going along with this concept they want to give the 110 acres including lot 23, 11 and 10 to the Town on Conservation Drive for three lots on Manchaug Road. The difficulty becomes that if they proceed they would have to have State approval to remove the conservation restrictions from the parcel on Manchaug Road. Then they would have to go to Town Meeting for a vote. He needs to give feedback from the Board of Selectmen. Paula Brouillette does not see any reason why the Town would want to do it. She can understand why a developer would see a difference in land on Manchaug Road versus the land on Conservation Drive for development. Proceeding on the original deal by getting the three lots and the 110 back land is the appropriate thing to do. Plus the difficulty with the land on Manchaug Road – it’s two different processes. Rich Preston thinks it takes a Special Act plus they are dealing with land that was supposed to be given to them to begin with. William Cundiff stated there is nothing in writing – it’s recorded in Conservations minutes. He likes the original scenario, DEP likes it and the Judge likes it. The only one who doesn’t like it is the owner and his lawyer. He believes it is a stall tactic. Shirley Mosczynski stated she feels they should not mix two pieces of property. They went through enough to get the land on Manchaug Road. If the Board feels this is the way she concurs. She asked William Cundiff to tell the other party that “this is the best they are going to get”.
• GBI: William Cundiff asked if they had any questions about Winter Street. Rich Preston felt GBI was supposed to sit down with William Cundiff and come up with a definitive plan. William Cundiff stated they should be careful about using the word ‘plan’ – it could be misinterpreted to mean, they plan to do this or that rather than specification; they should say ‘engineering drawing’. Paula Brouillette stated she feels they should get something in writing. They’ve already done step one and already had a miscommunication of what their intent was. Michael Guzinski stated that he and William Cundiff will sit down and come up with something to send them. Consensus of the Board. Paula Brouillette stated she did take a drive down to Winter Street and there is an area cleared that looks like a road. Probably they should be concerned that no work is done until there is a consensus on what that road is going to be – not before. Rich Preston stated the bigger issue: is this road really a paper road or a de facto road – they need to look at paper roads and discontinue them if they don’t want to improve them. He believes there are more out there. They need to decide if they want to keep them or not. If Winter Street is a true paper road there is a precedent for not having the road developed. William Cundiff stated it’s his opinion that it is abandoned – 1976 map shows it as abandoned. It’s an opportunity to get something constructed but it has to be to the standard the Board wants. They have to pay damages when they discontinue roads. He is planning on putting together a memo on the discrepancies of the 1976 Map and the Certified List. Paula Brouillette stated the property had been assessed as back land – in 1982 it changed. She did not see the property before the trees were cleared but by the size of the stumps she could tell it was not passable. Shirley Mosczynski stated they need to be consistent.

3. Discuss FY06 Budget – Vote upon budget recommendations. (Town Accountant and Police Chief will be attending).
• Discussion with Chief Foley: Michael Guzinski passed out the FY06 Budget and FY06 Police Budget. Chief Foley came forward to discuss his budget. He explained that there are two contracts pending – his and the Lieutenants. Everything on his budget sheet that is in red and yellow are areas they could cut. He has added a position and overtime has been increased by 50 hours for both Patrol Officers and Sergeants – they are getting called into court more often. He added a swing shift for dispatcher – last year they used money out of the part-time account. Also last year there was a discrepancy in steps. Part-time dispatching could be changed – reduce with full-time positions. They have added 50 days to vacation. That shows they have a good work force with longevity. Sick leave has been consistent over the last 5 years. All shifts are filled with part timers. The Sergeants are getting called to court a lot more. Shift differential was amended to the contract. Training has stayed the same. On the expense side – the last five years they have been consistent but will be going up. Rich Preston noted that the bottom line was the same as last year. Chief Foley stated he and Michael Guzinski did talk about cuts and he could cut the budget by $14,000 to $16,000 which would offset the increases. He and Lieutenant Gilbert are currently in negotiations – he would like to keep money aside for that. Paula Brouillette asked about the difference in wages between ’05 and ’06 – is it the difference between increased hours? Chief Foley stated it’s the part time dispatchers who will now be full time dispatchers. Last year he showed a line item of $145,000 for 4 full time positions. The actual numbers came in at $151,000, a difference of $6,000. They have $40.5 thousand for a new officer, $32,000 for a new dispatcher plus the additional hours. Rich Preston asked what they are doing with cruisers. Chief Foley stated they normally rotate every three years, they do a lease purchase. This year since they have added two more people they want to get 5 cruisers – one for the Chief and a set cruiser for the Supervisor. Right now he has 11 different officers driving cruisers – on a given night, Lt. Gilbert might drive his car and after midnight a different officer will be driving it, it may not be a Supervisor it may be a regular Officer. There is no consistency and everyone drives a vehicle differently. What he wants to do is – he has his own vehicle, Supervisors will have their own vehicle, and the three remaining will be line cruisers. The three line cruisers will be divided up so three people will be assigned to each car. They are looking at a 5 year lease for the Chief car, Supervisor car and the Tahoe. They have already had the Tahoe for 5 years but are looking to get two more years out of it. Studies show that once they reach 100,000 miles on front line cruisers their dependability is shot. Their vehicles are over the 100,000 mile mark. He asked how the Board will be voting on his budget. Michael Guzinski explained the Board would vote on the overall budget recommendations – the Finance Committee will work with the dollars. The Board needs to “rough out” the numbers tonight so they have a balanced budget.
• Discussion with Town Accountant: In the packet is the FY2006 Budget Totals as of 4/26/05, Town of Douglas Schedule 19 Expenses – Fiscal 2006 Preliminary Estimate as of 4/26/05, and Town of Douglas – Net School Spending FY03-FY06. Handed out is a revised FY2006 Budget Totals as of 4/26/05. Town Accountant Rich Mathieu came forward. Michael Guzinski stated that after last week the remaining topic is the recommendation for the Schools budget – he was not sure if there were any other issues they wanted to address. Shirley Mosczynski asked them to go over the changes from the last Budget. Michael Guzinski stated that from last week the biggest change to the budget was finding out that the House Budget’s Chapter 78 was reduced by $161,480.00. Subsequently he recommends some changes to the School Budget. He explained the reason it was reduced is because the figures used to figure Chapter 70 money by the School were wrong. Shirley Mosczynski stated that several of them expressed concern over this but by the same token it was the figures that were reported to the State and the State in turn looked at it and made the decision to reduce the amount. Michael Guzinski stated other fairly minor changes include the budget for the Town Treasurer – increase of $5,000 for Financial Advisory Fees, the Town Clerk – increase of $1,000 for Town Clerk Certification, and the addition of two Police cruisers. He and the Town Accountant spent considerable time reviewing the budgets and looking at revenues. There are very few current revenues available. The only other source of funding available outside of Stabilization is Overlay Surplus. There is $180,000 in non-recurring revenues. Rich Mathieu stated those are the numbers as they exist. They have used the Overlay accounts previously to fund re-evaluation. If the Board continues to go with using free cash they will continue to dig a hole. Shirley Mosczynski asked if he proposed to use $907,000 of Free Cash to offset the operational expenses and what will happen with the remaining $285,000. Michael Guzinski stated the remainder of Free Cash will be used towards Capital projects and $131,000 from Stabilization for the remainder of the Capital projects. Rich Preston questioned the Schools budget and was concerned that it would not support their salaries and wondered where they were with their budget. Michael Guzinski stated the last un-official number was $11,600,000. Rich Mathieu stated that is a request to the Town – that’s before their contributions. Michael Guzinski concurred – they have their own funds. Shirley Mosczynski questioned using Overlay Surplus – concerned that they have a re-evaluation coming up in ’07. Michael Guzinski stated he asked Rich Mathieu to do a scenario budget using different Chapter 70 money - there are very few changes to the budget. He stated he can not be prepared to recommend this budget and he is not going to say that at Town Meeting he will be against it. What it does is puts them into the path to further increase their dependency and the need to look at an over ride for next year. Shirley Mosczynski stated it is scary – using one time revenues to supplement the operational. She feels bad that the Chapter 70 will be cut but by the same token the School received an extra $1,000,000 over two years because of the wrong figures given to the State. If they look at the amounts of increases on the Municipal side and the School side – the Municipal side has had to hold the line for some time. Michael Guzinski stated the paperwork shows that for over four years the Municipal side has increased on average - 4% per year; the School has increased on average – 7% per year. Rich Preston asked what the School revenues were for ’05 and what percentage of the budget it was. Rich Mathieu stated $1.3 million or 12-14% was committed from other revenues. What makes up those available revenues – he is guessing Choice In, Educational Grants, etc. How the numbers break out – he is not sure. They do have enough to cover contract agreements. Shirley Mosczynski stated Douglas has not had to lay off where other systems have had to lay off – Douglas has had hiring all these years; even through the tuff times. Paula Brouillette stated the important issues for them to look at are where are the revenues they are using to support this budget. If there was any other way they could do it; if it wasn’t so “one time-ish” – what they are doing is taking Free Cash in advance, not just Free Cash that exists. They are putting more and more one time revenues into it. When she looks at it that way she can’t support doing it. Rich Preston concurred – they are using potential future revenues for Free Cash. Michael Guzinski stated it’s basically an operating deficit they are operating on funds based on a budget of one time revenues which is highly risky and causes financial problems. It causes a snowball effect of financial problems – it’s pushing off the problems but it’s making them bigger. Shirley Mosczynski stated that if they gave the School what they are asking for they would be cutting a lot. Rich Mathieu stated he reduced the Police budget by $15,026.00 making the new budget $19,515,623.00. Paula Brouillette stating that now that they have a real debt exclusion from Valley Tech – do they have to do anything? Now the number is lower then what they voted on. Michael Guzinski stated he will have to check on this – they can sit down with Financial Advisor Clark Rowell and go over it. Rich Mathieu stated he’s not sure that it would; they are not borrowing less money – they just receive a better rate on the total debt. Michael Guzinski stated that was the question he had – is it a matter of a dollar amount or a general approval. If it was one of those open ended ballot questions they wouldn’t have to do anything. Paula Brouillette made a motion to approve the Budgets total expenses of $19,515,623.00 as presented. Rich Preston seconded the motion. All – aye.

4. Executive Administrator Evaluation Wrap-up.
Handed out is Section 4. Salary and Exhibit A of Michael Guzinski contract.
• Shirley Mosczynski stated they needed to wrap up Michael Guzinski’s evaluation. She hasn’t written his letter but they did discuss it at their last meeting. She stated that under Section 4, item D. of his contract the Board may increase his salary. She read the section. They did not get to this part during his evaluation. Michael Guzinski stated he appreciates the board’s kind words and understands the financial state the Town is in. He would like feedback from the Board via a letter. He has enjoyed his time so far. Shirley Mosczynski went over the evaluation again - the Board gave him a score range from 80 to 97. Some of the things said about him where that he has raised the level of professionalism in the office. Keeps the Board well informed. Proficiency and punctuality. His knowledge of the Mass General Laws is much appreciated. He has made significant contribution to the financial decisions, staff involvement, and direction. He has also brought a level headedness to the financial decision making. The area of improvement is moving forward on his goals and objectives – either complete the items or negotiate and schedule them; also better utilization of direct staff. As far as the salary goes – just after he came in his salary went up July 1, 2004 to $84,050, up 2.5%. In July 2005 it went up to $87,412, 4.0% increase, and in July 1, 2006 it will go up another 4% for a total of $90,908. As noted these amounts can be increase in accordance with Section 4, subsection D. Michael Guzinski offered to step out of the room. Rich Preston stated looking at the Salary scale, he feels the $87,412 is high and well deserved. He asked Michael Guzinski if he had an increase in mind above and beyond what is scheduled. Michael Guzinski stated he is not looking for anything above and beyond what the rest of the Town is getting. The rest of the Town is getting a 5% increase (step and COLA). He is looking for an additional 1.25%. Paula Brouillette stated that Michael Guzinski has had a good first year. Her concern is about them having a contract that increases the salary. She understands the logic – she’s just trying to get a feel of how they will go through the process. In one sense it could have been written to match what the town employees have – how are they going to start to handle salary increases. On the other hand Michael Guzinski has done a good job – his support has been tremendous. She is conflicted and would like to know how the Board feels. Edward Therrien feels Michael Guzinski has also done a great job. David Furno also stated he feels Michael Guzinski has done a good job. Rich Preston stated he remembers Michael Guzinski’s original request of about $90,000 – they compromised a bit. Given his performance he does not feel it is unreasonable to give him what everyone else is getting. Shirley Mosczynski asked if they have the money to cover it. Michael Guzinski stated it will reduce the surplus by $18,515. Rich Preston made a motion to approve increasing Michael Guzinski’s salary by a percent of 5 and ¼ total. David Furno seconded the motion. All – aye.

5. Other Business:
• Blackstone Valley Leadership Youth Academy: Shirley Mosczynski
reported the Board received a letter from Marylou Anderson from the Blackstone Valley Leadership Youth Academy. Four students from the Valley, some from Douglas, have been involved. She asked that they be acknowledged. Suzanne Kane made Certificates Of Congratulations to be presented to the students at their program at Slater Mills Site in Pawtucket RI on May 3rd. Consensus of the Board to sign the Certificates of Congratulations.
• Speed Bumps at Post Office: Shirley Mosczynski reported that the speeds bumps that are supposed to be at the Post Office on Gleason Court are still not there. Michael Guzinski stated he will talk to Chief Foley about this.
• Oak Street Signs: Shirley Mosczynski stated that the Board voted in July to have signs placed on Oak Street, Northwest Main Street and other areas. They are still not up. Edward Therrien stated that Chief Foley is supposed to be available to do it.
• Pipes on South Street: Edward Therrien reported that there are two pipes out of commission on South Street. They are working on them.
• Speed on Rt. 16: Rich Preston reported that he is getting reports of speed along Rt. 16. People who live along Rt. 16 can not get in or out of their driveways – they need to revisit this item.
• Leaves and Brush: David Furno stated the Highway Department needs a place to put leaves and brush – people ask them all the time. Michael Guzinski suggested a community compost pile. Paula Brouillette asked if it was possible to put them at the land fill site. Michael Guzinski stated they would need a DEP approval. In Blackstone that’s where they take it. Paula Brouillette suggested sending the request to the Board of Health. Shirley Mosczynski asked if they ever resolved the issue of where the Animal Inspector could take road kill. Michael Guzinski stated he notified the Board of Health that the Board of Selectmen were not in favor of burying them and they are going to look into hiring someone. He will ask them about the leaves and bush.

6. Adjournment:
Paula Brouillette made a motion to adjourn at 9:49 pm. David Furno seconded the motion. All – aye.

Respectfully submitted;


Suzanne Kane
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